As I sat there watching my little brother make a lifetime change, I realized that I also once made a change that big and life-altering. As my brother said his vows and tears streamed down his face I remembered my very own wedding. For years my brother argued that marriage is nothing but a piece of paper. I asked him again minutes after he and his new wife walked out of the building heading for wedding portraits, “So is it still a piece of paper?” He responded with tears still in his eyes, “It’s so much more than that!”
My own wedding in September 2006 was nothing more than a courthouse wedding in my pajamas as I was sick with a stomach bug, but still, that day changed everything. I was sick and had called off work since we had decided to get married that day. Our relationship was good—we were best friends. I couldn’t imagine growing old without him. We had moved into our first apartment a few months prior with our 18 month old daughter, but we knew we wanted to get married because we had talked about it for two years and knew that we didn’t want anyone else. We wanted to be each other’s and only each other’s.
After a decade of marriage and twelve years of being together we have changed. I was only 18 when we got married, so our marriage has spanned our twenties—those years when you are finding your place in the world. In the “honeymoon stage” of our relationship we seemed to agree on most everything, but as the years went on and we were learning to grow up, our interests changed. Our views of how things were supposed to go changed. We started arguing more, mostly over petty stuff like doing dishes or putting clothes away. I questioned if I had made the right choice by marrying him. I questioned if I fell in love just because I thought he was cute or because we had a daughter together. But usually after a few hours one of us would apologize for our actions or words and smooth things over. Despite the challenges, we still loved each other, were best friends, and shared everything.
After all, in those vows we made we promised to love for richer or poorer, for sickness and health, and till death do us part. Those words strike hard to the core. As we face the world of judgmental people—some of whom thought we’d never make it—we hold each other close. We walk the plank together hand in hand as we face our problems head on. During times of unemployment we have lived the richer or poorer part of our vows. We were also separated for a while, but came back to each other and have since grown stronger and truly plan to be together till death do us part. Through all these life phases we work to overcome as a team; we use even the negative life experiences to change and grow.
With these changes, our relationship has evolved, as do most things in life. We have learned to better adapt and to better love. I have learned to bite my tongue when we argue or overlook the small things that “burn my cookie.” I have even come to love some of the changes we have made together. For example, we have evolved in the way we communicate: we have learned to read each other’s body language and understand when to back off so as not to suffocate the other person.
We are not the same people we were when we first said our “I do’s.” We are two loving people evolving with time—and the wedding vows we made to each other ten years ago are our foundation. As I watched my brother and his new wife walk out on the dance floor as the new Mr. And Mrs. Evans I can only hope and dream that their marriage will change, evolve and flourish like mine has. I wish nothing but the best for them. May their love change and evolve with time to meet the needs of their new adventure in life.